Jitish Kallat: The Hour of the Day of the Month of the Season
Galerie Daniel Templon
7 September - 2 November 2013
Review by Marianne Van Boxelaere
In Rue Beaubourg, a stone’s throw away from Centre Pompidou in Paris, Galerie Daniel Templon presents the first exhibition of the season with new work from Indian artist, Jitish Kallat (Mumbai, °1974). Varied media, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography and video are meticulously organised in the exhibition space. Kallat has engaged both the micro and the macro in seemingly random manner, as he states; ‘scale is merely one of the many tools one can deploy in the creation of meaning.
The centrepiece of the main exhibition is a triptych made of pencil, acrylic, oil and gloss paint. A visual patchwork of disparate elements, atoms, organic material and what look like Mumbai’s inhabitants are depicted in a bold, colourful and highly graphic manner. The same technique has been used in Kallat’s painting ‘Ephemeris (The Almanac of a Dancing Shadow)’, where one has to take time to discover the amalgam of drawings of dogs, buildings, streets and so on, incorporated, entwined and intermingled within the hair of the depicted figures and the background composition.
Kallat is from Mumbai, the financial capital of India and home to Bollywood. This enormous city has seen both an influx of money brought in by booming elite businesses and poverty brought in by the immigrants from rural areas; Mumbai, along with Delhi, has unsuprisingly developed a vibrant contemporary art scene, catalysed by the push and pull of cosmopolitan life. Kallat captures this urban dynamism and the psychological strains of the mega-metropolis in his work, particularly in his video, photographs and sculptures.
On a pedestal in the second room, four clay sculptures of sleeping men are displayed in close proximity of ‘Breath’, a video work that shows a slow sequence of a solar eclipse over seven video monitors. The combination of the sleeping figures and the repetitive movement of the sun and moon - a perpetuum mobile par excellence - opens up notions of immobility and repetition. A certain emptiness is beautifully emphasised along with a lucid sense of humour; the seven videos are not celestial movements, as we were initially led to believe, but actually rotis, India’s most popular bread dish.
Entering the third exhibition room, one finds oneself alone with a line of sculptures (‘Circadian Rhyme’), impersonating 48 small figurines who are probably stopped at a border and controlled by police officers. Their vulnerable arms, vertically and horizontally lifted in the air, suggests a choreography akin to their shadows on the wall. This work again reflects a deep involvement with the city and the overwhelming economic, political and social changes that have taken place in India over the past three decades.
The result of the artist’s meanderings in his first solo exhibition in France, is a unique dialogue between intimacy and monumentality, art history, the past and the future - one that touches, both literally and figuratively, upon tragedy and hope, destruction and transformation.
[1) The Asian Art Newspaper, February 2010